Now that students are back to school, many are using various types of mhealth, including for skin care.
Among the types of apps available for mobile technology devices, some of the most popular – outside of games – have been those that have a focus on health features, such as activity tracking and monitoring sleep quality.
That said, mhealth is now headed in new directions that range from cardiovascular disease prevention to skin care.
At the same time that mobile technology is being flooded with opportunities for people to receive alerts and track their healthful eating, regular exercise, and other activities that promote heart health and weight loss, the recent back to school season has created a burst of interest in skin care as students try to beat back their acne now that they must once again face their peers. Acne is one of the banes of adolescent existence and with apps and portable devices promising that pimples, redness and even scarring can be cleared up without needing prescription drugs, harsh cleansers and drying creams can sound too good to be true.
Parents and students have been looking into the way that mobile technology can help in overcoming acne vulgaris.
The main trend toward the use of mobile phones for beating acne is with light therapy. The reason is that light therapy has been receiving some considerable attention from the medical community following some highly promising studies. Blue light wavelengths are now known to kill a broad spectrum (so to speak) of unwanted bacteria, including forms that are resistant to antibiotics as well as the acne vulgaris bacteria that causes most pimples to form. Red light is known to reduce inflammation and heal wounds and scarring.
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In fact, one study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, entitled “Phototherapy with blue (415 nm) and red (660 nm) light in the treatment of acne vulgaris,” showed that using combined blue and red light therapy for acne gave improved results over using the common benzoyl peroxide topical treatment (which is the active ingredient in many over the counter cleansers and creams), and stated that “by combining antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action, [blue-red phototherapy] is an effective means of treating acne vulgaris of mild to moderate severity, with no significant short-term adverse effects.”
Another study called “A prospective, randomized, open and comparative study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of blue light treatment versus a topical benzoyl peroxide 5% formulation in patients with acne grade II and III”, published in the Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia medical journal determined that blue light was “as effective as benzoyl peroxide in acne treatment grades II and III but there were fewer side effects.”
That said, the main problem with the use of mobile technology such as smartphones and tablets for this purpose is that the apps that project the light have no way of controlling the wavelengths and the strength of the light through the device screen. This means that results, if any, would not be consistent from one device to the next. Moreover, it is very unlikely that the brightness level achieved from the device screen would be adequate enough to have any effect. Until mhealth can catch up, it looks as though specialty LED and laser options will continue to dominate the light therapy and phototherapy industries for acne treatment.